Friday, September 28, 2007

Woman at the well-4

In John’s Gospel chapter 4 the Lord Jesus is talking to a woman of ill reputation at a well. They were talking about water on one hand and eternal life, figured by Jesus as “living water” which, in that day, meant running water.

His point to the woman was that the water of eternal life that he would give for the asking would be, to one who drank, the source of unending life.

This analogy is over against the analogy of the water from the well which was hard to maintain, and ran out too soon -- very much like this mortal life, the days of which “are soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90).

There are many things that could be said about this passage. I could write on it for weeks. But this is probably the last installation on this passage. And I want to point out something a bit obscure.

There is a theme in John’s Gospel that runs just under the surface about how the Jewish officials and those who followed them responded to Jesus Christ on one hand, and how those who were not of this privileged class, namely, Commoners among the Galileans, commoners in Jerusalem and surrounding area, Gentiles like the Roman Nobleman who comes up a little later on, and Samaritans responded on the other. In brief, the sections where Christ is in Jerusalem, the Jews, as John (himself a Jew) called them, saw more miracles and signs than most of the members of the other classes.

These signs certified him as the Son of God and the promised Messiah.

The religious officials had more access than anyone in the history of the world to the Holy Scriptures which pointed to him with clear identifying signs. The people of the other groups had much less access, both because they were commoners, and because they were members of groups who were more or less marginalized by the religious officials.

Yet, when the LORD God, the ultimate Author of these writings was made flesh and presented himself, the religious officials refused to recognize him. They only saw him as a threat to their wealth, power, and privilege.

John recounts several incidents in which Jesus went up to Jerusalem, the capital of official religion, and was discounted, rejected, and even in peril of his life, even though he opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead, and other things. These things just don’t happen. We all know this. So when they did happen before thousands of eyewitnesses, they were “signs” that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, the Saviour, the Judge of all mankind, as he said he was. The religious officials were never able to deny that these things happened. They just refused to draw the obvious conclusion.

The reason John gives for this in chapter twelve is that God had blinded their eyes and closed their ears and hardened their hearts as an act of judgement.

In contrast, however, is this woman. What great sign did Jesus do to convince her that he was the Messiah, the Saviour who should come into the world?

Apparently there was, in the corrupted religion of the Samaritans, a fable that when Messiah showed up, he would be like -- I don’t know -- like Madam Ruby -- that he would be able to tell people things about themselves that he normally should not know. And when Jesus told her to go get her husband -- well you go read the account -- she dropped her pot and ran into the city and rounded up all her men friends to come meet him. She ran around the streets saying, “This is him. He told me everything I ever did.” He didn’t, of course. He just told her one thing. But it was enough.

Nothing was enough for the officials.

So, dear reader, what is enough for you? There is, in the Bible, more than enough evidence for you to know that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and for you to believe on him for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. The Bible and the Biblical Christian Faith will stand up to honest investigation.

But you: will you insist that you already know it all like the religionists in John’s Gospel? Then your sins remain, because you insist that you see. (John 9:41). Or will you admit you do not. Like the woman who heard about the living water, will you turn in your heart and say, “Well, give it to me. I need it.”

In either case, you will have to answer to none other than Jesus Christ himself. He said that the Father had committed the judgement of all mankind to him, because he was also a man.

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